Ninh Binh province has many more interesting places to explore besides the famous Tam Coc cave tour. We can organize 1,2 or 3 day tours to places such as Bich Dong pagoda, Trang An caves, Hang Mua cave and mountain, the Hoa Lu ancient citadel, Bai Dinh temples, Van Long wetland reserve, Kenh Ga floating village and the Cuc Phuong National Park and more…
Bich Dong pagoda
One of the major attractions around Tam Coc for both foreign visitors and Vietnamese worshippers, this small but beautiful pagoda is built against a mountain and in a cave. The surrounding mountains and country side are gorgeous and the new, well maintained road makes it easily accessible.
Bich Dong Pagoda
Trang An caves and boat tour.
While Tam Coc is famous for its three caves, Trang An has nine caves from 100 to 300 meters long. The boat tour is similar to Tam Coc. You will be peddled around beautiful mountains and impressive nature, but since this place has only opened last year it isn’t discovered yet by tourist agencies and tour group from Ha Noi. The Long hotel is one of the very few places where you can book a tour to Trang An. During the trip you visit temples and it is possible to follow paved stairs up to a mountain. You have a good chance to see some wild monkeys here!
Trang An boat tour
Dancing cave is called after the dry cave that goes through the mountain, but is most popular for the path that leads all the way to the top of the mountain above the cave. It is the steep climb, but it leads you to the highest accessible point in the region. Great for shooting fantastic photographs. At the foot of the mountain is a quiet park with fishponds laid out. Like Trang An, this place isn’t discovered yet by Westerners. The area around Hang Mua consists of rice fields, tiny villages, and spectacular nature.
Hoa Lu ancient capital
In 2008 Hoa Lu was proposed for UNESCO listing as a World Heritage. Scientists affirmed that Hoa Lu is an important cultural and historical site in Viet Nam. It was the capital for 42 years under six Kings of the Dinh, Tien Le and Ly dynasties between 968 and 1009. Hoa Lu used to be a military base and has witnessed many significant events and major changes in the nation. The surrounding mountain gave great protection against invaders. Many centuries of feudal battle and wars however left not much of the original capital. These days two beautiful temples are left dedicated to the dynasties of the Dinh and the Le Dai Hanh. On one of the mountains is the tomb of emperor Dinh Tien Hoang. The surrounding villages and rice fields very inviting for a walk.
Hoa Lu ancient capital
Bai Dinh temples
The largest temples of Sound-East Asia. Bai Dinh covers an area of over 80 hectares with four large temples. The place is totally new and at the moment of writing (2009) not finished yet, but it is scheduled to be ready in 2010. It is already open to visitors and hundreds of Vietnamese pilgrims already visit to daily.
The two largest and highest temples have some of the largest bronze Buddha statues on display in Asia, three of them weighing around 50 tones, one of them even more than 100 tones. The lowest and smallest temple has a huge 38 tones bronze bell.
The temples are surrounded by 500 stone Buddha statues, overlook a huge artificial lake and are built on the slope of a 200 meters high mountain.
Since construction isn’t finished yet it can sometimes be noisy or dirty, but the grand scale makes it absolutely worth a visit. And unbelievably, this place too is still not discovered by most of the foreign visitors to Viet Nam.
Bai Dinh temple
Van Long wetland reserve
Although on first sight this may appear to be yet another boat tour like Tam Coc/ Trang An, but if you look closer you will notice that the nature and wildlife is actually very different.
The wetlands attract many species of birds. Especially in the late afternoon and early evening enormous flocks of birds can be seen gathering in the reserve.
Another attraction is the Delacour Langur, a highly endangered species of primates that live here. There are only about 300 left in the world today, of which about 40 live in Van Long. And, you probably already guessed it, this place too doesn’t see many foreign visitors.
Van Long wetland reserver
Kenh Ga floating village
Kenh Ga(“Chicken Village”) gets its name from the many wild chickens that used to live here. It’s a very tranquil area with wetlands, rivers and limestone rocks. An interesting feature of Kenh Ga, people row there boats here with their feet, leaning backwards.
From the pier at the entrance of the area you can take a motorboat to the village and surrounding river and wetlands. Near the village is a basic mineral water health spa.
Cuc phuong national Park
One of the oldest and most important protected areas in Vietnam, Cuc Phuong was opened by president Ho Chi Minh personally in 1962 even though a war was raging. It measures about 11 by 25 kilometers and has the highest peak ( Silver Cloud Peak, 656m) in this part of Vietnam. It has beautiful forests, great hiking opportunities and a very professionally run endangered primate rescue center where rare species of monkeys are taken care of. In the park you can find many species of plants, birds, mammals and reptiles. The park offers good accommodation, well English speaking guides and organizes treks that last from a few hours to several days. It is possible here to stay overningt with Vietnamese families in a Muong village. Short hikes include a prehistoric cave, a 1000 year old tree and a botanic garden. Cuc Phuong is situated at about 50km, from Tam Coc/Ninh Binh and although the roads are in fairly good condition, it is quite difficult to find if you don’t speak Vietnamese. The best way to get here is by rented car or by motorbike with a guide.
Cuc Phuong National park
Phat Diem also known by its former name Kim Son is home to a famous cathedral which is the centre of Catholicism in North – Vietnam, built around the end of the nineteenth century. Its vast dimensions and Sino-Vietnamese-European architecture are unique in Asia. The temple complex compromises several buildings, the main cathedral, the bell tower with an enormous bronze bell, the tomb of father Six, the founder, a Lourdes grotto and some more interesting chapels and statues. Daily mass is at 5Am and 5Pm.
Phat Diem cathedral
Services and tours
Most of the places mentioned above are scattered around the country side of the province of Ninh Binh. Especially if you’re not fluent in Vietnamese it may be very difficult to find your way. Also, the traffic conditions are probably not what you are used to at home.
Therefore we can organize all sorts of tailor made trips and help you explore the hidden gems Ninh Binh has to offer
For short excursions around Tam Coc we can provide you with high quality mountain bikes we have for rent and a basic map to find your own way or we can arrange a guide to support you
- 3 USD Lovsl bike
- 4 USD City bikr
- 5 USD Mountain bike
For any longer trips we can provide you with safe, experienced motorbike drivers and guides, if you prefer to discover Ninh Binh province by yourself, we have reliable motorbikes for rent ( Prices do not include petrol )
- Motorbike rent ( 10USD )/ day
- Automatic bike rent ( 15 USD )/ day
- English speaking guide 22-25USD/day
- Guide without motorbike 20USD/day
Long distances ( for example Cuc Phuong ) 5USD extra
Prices are per one full day
Services the long hotel - tamcocbackpackerhostels.com